What I Wish I Knew When We Trained Our Dog

AD – This post is in paid partnership with James Wellbeloved but all thoughts are my own

With the biggest dog show just around the corner, the Crufts competitors will be training harder than ever in the hope that their perfect pooch will take that first prize in Best in Show. And the attention on the best practices for training and taking care of your furry best friend will be even higher than usual. Crufts offers viewers and dog owners a ton of helpful advice on training, nutrition and health of your pet.

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I have a dog and that he’s the best dog in the world (but let’s be honest, every dog is the best dog in the world). His puppy training days are long gone, now that he’s 8 years old but he still acts like a mischievous, naughty puppy, the majority of the time.

If I’m being absolutely transparent, we weren’t really prepared for a dog at the time that we got him. It was a very spur of the moment decision for me and my family. Of course we wouldn’t be without him and he’s an absolute light in all of our lives – constantly making us laugh, smile and… tear our hair out occasionally.

His training was pretty limited.

We took him to puppy classes that our vet put on once a week. That was less of a training class and more of a chance for puppies to meet each other and socialise. In fact, thinking about it now, I’m pretty sure they were called “puppy parties“, so you can imagine how much training got done at those.

We also took him to proper training classes, in a hall with around ten other dogs. Ten other much more well behaved dogs. Look, I’m just going to say it… he was an absolute embarrassment in that class. He was very hard to train. Toilet training? Fine. He got that DOWN when he was super young. But anything that involved actually having to do what he was told?

Forget it.

Rory (oh, his name is Rory, I forgot to mention!) just loves doing his own thing. He’s his own man. An independent lone ranger. I love him to death exactly how he is but if I could go back to when he was a puppy, I’d definitely do a few things differently.

Stick with it for longer

This is the main one and probably the biggest one. Training a puppy is not a 5 minute job – no matter what breed you have or how well behaved they are. We didn’t stick with it for long enough. It’s as simple as that. I think we just kinda accepted the fact that he was a naughty dog and that was “just him”. But all dogs can be trained to behave.

Educate myself on nutrition earlier and more effectively

This is a big one for us and Rory because he’s had a few health problems in his life which have certainly affected and been affected by what he eats. As recently as this January actually when he was violently ill one day and we had to cut out a lot of the stuff he usually eats. Gosh, is there anything worse than seeing your dog ill?

But of course nutrition is a massive element of a puppy’s life and training – which continues throughout their entire life. So getting educated on dog nutrition early on is never going to hurt. Sometimes, the bog standard stuff on the supermarket shelves just isn’t going to cut it. And it’s so important to understand the health benefits of the different food you’re feeding your dog in his or hers young life.

I basically had no knowledge of the different healthier types of dog food available, such as grain free dog food – I left it all up to my Mum. She’s had a few dogs in her life so of course she’d know, right? That’s what I thought until she tried giving him a Christmas dinner when he was one year old.

We all know that a healthy diet and exercise is crucial for our dog’s well-being so if I was to ever do this dog thing again, I’d definitely take more time to educate myself on nutrition. Before we move on to the next point, Rory was lucky to try some samples of the healthy James Wellbeloved Grain Free Turkey with Vegetables pet food.

Did I mention this? But Rory LOVES food. He loves dog food. He loves human food. He loves things that aren’t food. He just loves eating. As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, we do have to keep his diet quite strict in terms of his morning and evening meals because he needs special food to keep certain health conditions under control.

But we do switch it up sometimes so I was excited to try him of the James Wellbeloved Grain Free Turkey with Vegetable pouches. He has pouches of this sort of size anyway so the amount of food in them was perfect. HOWEVER… guess what he DOESN’T eat?


Except with these pouches! He absolutely devoured the whole thing – including the vegetables. Which honestly, I’m a little surprised about because he proper turns his nose up at vegetables usually! The James Wellbeloved pouches contain no soya, wheat, dairy or eggs and provide your pooch with heart and joint support, immune system support, natural omega 3 and natural fats. Yay!

Train him to walk off the lead

One of the saddest things for me is the fact that my dog was so poorly trained as a puppy that he’s never been able to have a public walk off his lead. Of course you have to be smart as to where and when you let your dog off a lead but for us, we don’t even have a choice. If he saw a squirrel, another dog or a crisp packet… he’d be off. And we’d be unlikely to see him again.

Prepare myself better beforehand

And finally, before the dog even entered our life, I’d have definitely liked to have been more prepared. As I said, getting Rory was a very spur of the moment decision for us. He was being looked after by a friend of a friend because his previous owners couldn’t keep him. They didn’t want any money for him, just a loving home.

Which is what we gave him. Oh boy have we given him a loving home.

But we were ill-prepared for a dog. The day we brought him home, we had nothing for him! My Mum had to shoot round to the shops to buy everything he needed.

So yes, it’s safe to say, if I did this dog thing again in the future, which I hope I do, I’d definitely go about it VERY differently.

I’d love to hear the stories of your puppies! Did you take them to training classes? Do you wish you’d taken them to more? Any funny puppy stories to share?


  1. Well written story, thanks for sharing!

  2. I have a Jack Russell Terrier and I relate to everything pretty much you said. I could never let him off the lead, I’d never see him again. That’s something I always wish I trained him with. Jack Russells are hard to train cause they really do their own thing I find.


    1. Awh yeah I can imagine that’s true with Jack Russells!

  3. Erin says:

    Dogs can be so stressful to train! But they are so sweet and so loving and rewarding!

    1. Oh I know!!!

  4. Oh bless him, Rory is SO cute that his cheeky personality is definitely something you can forgive him for! That’s amazing that he’s actually managed to eat vegetables with the James Wellbeloved pouches, they must be extremely tasty in that case! This post has actually given me a lot to think about for when I (FINALLY) get my first dog! I already know I’m going to have to use all my willpower to train it haha!

    1. Oh you will. And all your patience 😂

  5. Nutrition is definitely something that I’ve worked on for BB-8!

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

  6. I saw this post on my feed the other day and shared to my gal pals in our whatsapp group and they’ve been raving about it all week!

    1. Oh my god are you kidding?! That’s amazing! x

  7. I have my sister to blame for our pup. ‘Blame’ is probably the wrong word, but she got impatient waiting for her name to reach the top of the Hearing Dog list (two years and counting) and decided she wanted a puppy there and then. Within two days we had a 7-8 week old springer spaniel and now he’s 6/7 months old we can’t imagine life without him.

    Our training is going okay with him as we’ve had to do it ourselves (limited puppy training classes in our village) and he is improving a lot but we do still struggle with his walking as he is a puller on the lead. Sometimes he is great but when we come across birds or squirrels he goes absolutely mad! Hopefully we can train him out of it.

    It’s all a learning curve for him and us and hopefully we’ll know more now, especially as we’re getting another springer spaniel pup within the next two weeks which will need training alongside him!

    1. Awh a springer pup! So cute!

  8. My pup is a 13 months old now. We attended puppy training classes and he is pretty good with recall and basic commands. They are certainly expensive though!

    1. They really are!

  9. Aww!! Rory looks like such a sweetie! I love how happy he looks! I’ve only ever had one dog and he was a Yorkshire terrier called Lucky!

    1. Awh bless!

  10. Rory is the absolute cutest!!! He looks so smiley! My Mum has found very similar things with her dog, particularly in terms of training not being just a five minute job! She’s 4 this year and she still needs retraining every now and again! Xx

    1. I bet Rory would turn his nose up at us if we tried to retrain him haha!

  11. Dominika says:

    I’ve never had a dog, so I didn’t know just how much effort goes into training one – such an interesting read!

    1. A LOT of effort haha!

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